e’ve heard time and again that protein is key to eating a balanced diet
and feeling satiated. But how do we
get enough? The Costco Connection spoke with
Costco member and nutritionist Leslie Bonci
( activeeatingadvice.com), who, in addition to
working with notable names in the food industry, helped develop the Kirkland Signature™
Protein Bar. She gave us the lowdown on how to
increase intake of this crucial building block.
The Costco Connection: Why is protein so important to our diets?
Leslie Bonci: It is involved in so many aspects of
health, literally from head to toe. We talk about
the need for protein, certainly for maintaining
and creating healthy muscles, which means it
impacts our strength and our ability to move. It’s
also important for bone health, and protein is
involved in remodeling our joints, tendons and
ligaments, helping to keep that supporting
structure healthy. A lot of people don’t realize
that protein helps to support a healthy immune
system, because protein is a component of antibodies. If you don’t have adequate antibodies,
then you can’t fight off various types of infection.
Protein also [plays a role] in hormones; it is
involved in many metabolic processes.
CC: How much protein do people need?
LB: The dietary guidelines in the United States
recommend roughly about ;.;; gram of protein
per pound. For a ;;;-pound person, this would be
;; grams of protein per day, and for a ;;;-pound
person it would be ;; grams. However, these are
minimal amounts, not optimal. Our needs will
probably be higher than that.
[Protein intake is] not so much about being
male or female, and it can vary by age and activity levels. As we get older we may need more protein, as we lose muscle with age. To keep muscle
loss at a minimum, consuming optimal amounts
of protein may preserve muscle mass and
strength. Plus, during times of active growth [in
childhood and adolescence], it is important to
consume enough protein to optimize the health
and growth of muscle.
Protein needs are higher for people trying to
SPECIAL SEC TION
FOR YOUR HEALTH
lose weight, because we don’t want them losing
muscle. We want them losing fat.
We also need to [spread protein intake] over
the day. Over the day, the body goes through periods of time where we have muscle protein synthesis—protein is used to help form new
muscle—and other parts of the day, we’re having
[muscle] breakdown. The goal is to have more
protein synthesis than breakdowns.
Most people tend to eat a little, a little more
and then an entire cow for dinner. We should
space protein evenly throughout the day, ideally
;; to ;; grams of protein at meals and about ;;
to ;; grams in snacks.
CC: What are convenient ways of meeting protein
LB: Ideally [it’s through] food first. But protein
shakes, bars, powders and pre-mixed beverages
can help people optimize intake, and since protein is routinely underconsumed at breakfast
and in snacks, this can be a great place to add the
bars and shakes.
CC: What should you look for in a bar?
LB: Leucine, an amino acid and one of the building blocks of protein, tends to have the most pronounced effect on muscle protein synthesis, and
a bar with whey protein as its primary protein is
going to be one that provides the most leucine.
That’s number one.
Number two is that if you choose to eat a bar,
it will typically not have ;; grams of protein;
you’ll likely see somewhere in the ;;s or lower.
This puts a cap on the total calories, which can be
helpful for weight control as well.
Number three, a bar should also address one
of the other shortfalls in the United States diet,
which is not enough fiber. So if you can find a
high-fiber bar, that’s a good thing as well.
And then, you know, it has to taste good. C
BUYERS AND suppliers at
Costco spent a year developing the Kirkland Signature
Protein Bars, released with
great success in two flavors:
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
and Chocolate Brownie. This
month, additional flavors
(Cinnamon Roll, Chocolate
Peanut Butter Chunk, and
Cookies and Cream) will be
available in select locations.
Packages of single-flavor
options will be available on
Each gluten-free bar is
packed with 21 grams of
protein. A 2.12-ounce bar has
just 190 calories, 7 grams of
fat (only 2. 5 grams of which
are saturated fat), 1 gram of
sugar and 4 grams of net carbohydrates. Milk protein isolate—a concentration of cow’s
milk—and whey are the primary sources of protein.
“We’ve recently adjusted some
of the ratios in the protein to
achieve a softer texture than
the original bars that launched,” says Troy Kozen, Costco
corporate foods buyer.
Kozen explains that the
Kirkland Signature bars are
much “cleaner” than others
on the market, as they don’t
contain guar gum, sucralose
or palm oil.
Developers created more
than 30 variations of the item
before they arrived at the current recipe. “The bars were
created with a focus on
high-quality ingredients, but we
also wanted to create an item
that tasted great,” says Kozen.
“Our members have proven
with their purchases how much
they love the product.”—Laura
How to get more from
this dietary essential
Look for protein bars, shakes,
powders and a variety of protein-packed foods in Costco
warehouses and on Costco.com.